The earliest known printed reference to this legend is Paul Smith’s 1986 Book of Nastier Legends. The story started to spread widely coincident with the release of the Batman movie in 1989, and retellings of the story as true by Paul Harvey in 1989 and Ann Landers in early 1990 helped disseminate the legend to an even larger audience.
[Ann Landers, 1990]
It seems a couple sitting on their back porch enjoying a lovely summer evening were startled by blood-curdling screams for help coming from their neighbors’ home.
After dialing 911 and arming themselves with a baseball bat, the couple proceeded to their neighbors’ house to assist in any way they could. As luck would have it, the front door was unlocked so they walked right in. They followed the frantic calls for help to an upstairs bedroom, where they found the neighbor lady stark naked and tied hand and foot to her bed. On the floor lay her husband, unconscious, wearing a Batman cape and mask.
It became apparent that the couple were into both bondage and fantasies.
Mr. Batmanhad attempted to leap from the dresser onto the bed. In the process he bumped his head on the ceiling fan and went out like a light.
The couple untied
Mrs. Batman,revived Mr. Batmanand took him to the hospital, where he was treated for a superficial head injury and released.
[Collected on the Internet, 1994]
A friend of a friend was worried when she didn’t see her neighbours for a couple of days. Their car was in the drive but the milk was piling up outside the door. So she went over to the house and knocked on the door. No reply. She listened at the letterbox and could hear some faint sounds of groaning.
She rushed back home and phoned the Police who duly arrived and broke the door down. They searched the ground floor and found nothing. Then they went upstairs and heard the moaning coming from behind the main bedroom door.
The police burst in to find the woman, wearing a maid’s outfit, tied and gagged on the bed. They hurriedly untied her and she started sobbing “My husband, my husband, he’s in the wardrobe”. Thinking that the husband had been killed the police opened the wardrobe to find the husband, dressed in a Spiderman outfit crumpled at the bottom of the wardrobe with a broken leg.
It transpired that the couple had been playing a “sexual game.” He pretended to be Spiderman and would jump off the top of the wardrobe and “save” his wife. However, the roof of the wardrobe had collapsed and he’d been stuck in the wardrobe for two days.
This legend bears similarities to the sexy videotape legend in that both feature married couples whose “kinky” sexual activities are exposed to their communities by accident.
- The manner in which neighbors or police discover something is amiss varies: They hear the woman screaming, notice that the couple hasn’t been seen for several days, or are alerted by the smell of the dead husband’s decomposing body. (In the latter two cases the woman is unable to scream because she has been gagged as well as tied to the bed.)
- The superhero costume worn by the husband is any one of Batman, Superman, Spiderman, or even Tarzan.
- The manner in which the husband injures himself varies: He slips and falls while attempting to jump from a dresser, jumps and hits his head on a ceiling fan, falls through the top of a wardrobe and is trapped inside, or hits his head on a bedpost. In some versions a dresser/wardrobe falls on top of the husband.
- The injury received by the costumed husband varies: In most versions he is knocked unconscious, but in some variants he breaks a leg or is even killed.
- In versions in which the wife is unable to summon help because she is gagged, she is found to be badly dehydrated, on the verge of starvation, or gone mad from the shock. (In nearly all of these versions the husband has already died from his injuries.)
Sightings: This scenario (minus the superhero costume) was the basis of the 1992 Stephen King novel Gerald’s Game.>.